August 14, 2003


• Daratech's 2003 Report
• Location-based Services and Geographic Instinct
• NAC Gets a Trial Run

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Daratech's GIS industry report typically appears in the second half of each year, and a press release taunts GIS market watchers (like me) with some of the highlights. You can read the 2001 and 2002 releases, as well as my commentary for 2001 and 2002, if you want some historical perspective. Unfortunately, Daratech presented different data in this year's release than in the past years, so I cannot show the year-to-year trends in marketshare. To compile that data, you'll need to buy the complete report.

This year, Daratech predicts that 2003 revenue will be $1.75 billion (up 8%) in core business revenue (hardware, software, services and data).

Software sales alone, for 2002 totaled $1.1 billion, compared to $1.1 billion in 2001, and $939 million in 2000. That translates to 67% of core spending this year contributed by software; 24% from services, 5% from hardware and 4% from data. Software leaders, notes the PR, run this way: ESRI, Intergraph, Autodesk, GE Network Solutions (Smallworld), Leica Geosystems GIS and Mapping Division, MapInfo, IBM Corporation's GIS Business Unit, and SICAD.

Daratech did not detail percentages this year in the release, but notes that ESRI and Intergraph account for nearly half of all software revenues. Daratech noted the same figure last year. Back in 2000, ESRI and Intergraph together accounted for 52% of software revenues. The only change I can tease out of the list as presented, compared with last year, is that Autodesk has swapped places with GE Network Solutions. That may be insignificant, since last year both were assigned 7% of the market each.

Service revenues were basically flat with last year at nearly $400 million. The $88 million in hardware was almost all from Intergraph and IBM, the two companies that were still offering bundled hardware.

Regulated industries (electric, telcom, transportation and education) accounted for 46% of revenues, up just 1% over last year. Pubic sector spending (local, state and federal) was up 5%, to account for 30% of revenues. The PR notes, however, that federal spending is slipping, with 67% of public sector spending from local and state governments and 33% from federal governments. The release explains that federal GIS use is slowly being "pushed down" to state and local players, making them the key public sector buyers. Private sector spending was flat at 24%. The biggest areas in that sector include earth resource management (46%), followed by AEC (at 16%), marketing, sales and cartography.

So, have things changed much? Not really. But then, considering the economy of late, I wouldn't have expected big waves of change in 2002. Still, the numbers do raise some interesting questions. How will the breakdown of software vs. services play out in the next few years? My sense is that software sales will decrease and services will rise. Why? Buyers of components and other technology offerings, like Web services, will demand more and more hours of programming and customization services. Further, buying a Web product may lower the software cost of a system that replaces an implementation of hundreds to thousands of desktop systems. It will be interesting to see how server side hosting of desktop products (ArcGIS Server, for example) will be priced and how that pricing will affect overall software spending.

A second question has to do with the private sector. Will the "construction" (AEC) sector ever grab onto GIS at the levels that resource management has? That will be an important question for AEC-focused companies like Autodesk and Bentley. Both companies continue to pursue GIS, GIS integration, and GIS/AEC interoperability for that area.

Not long ago I was traveling in an unfamiliar city only to find I'd forgotten something at home. Not having much time before a meeting, I decided it best to track down a replacement. As I followed my instincts to find a clothing store (with very little trouble, I might add), I considered that if I had a location-based solution in my car or PDA, I'd be dutifully following its path. That made me think about why people have "geographic instinct" in the first place.

How did I know where to look, even in a city I'd never visited? Experience, or "paying attention" during decades of walking, running, biking and driving around unfamiliar cities both in the U.S. and abroad. On some occasions I have been looking for a specific product or service (lunch or a copy shop, typically), while on others I have simply gone "exploring." These experiences allowed me to create a mental map of how cities and towns and the countryside are laid out.

As directions-providing technologies grow to become a common element of daily life, will we gradually lose our instincts as to how places are laid out? When I posed that question to another geographer, he pointed out how spelling and grammar checkers may interfere with one's spelling and grammatical intuition. That's a pretty fair parallel. On the other hand, a spell-checker doesn't write a sentence or an article; you have to provide the words. Today's location-based services (LBS) seem to cater to the "even lazier." All you need it know is what you want. Those solutions with embedded GPS mean you need not even know where you are.

I suppose I can make peace with both directions-providing services and spelling and grammar checkers, so long as there is balance. In the same way I rely on spelling/grammar checkers (not enough, according to some readers), I suppose I will rely on LBS too, but hopefully in moderation. We trust calculators to help balance checkbooks, but we need to have the internal sense and confidence to carefully scrutinize obscure-looking values. Similarly, to use LBS intelligently, we need to have the same sort of confidence in our understanding of the layout of our world.

NAC Geographic Products Inc. introduced a Universal Address System (among other universal systems for postal codes, grids and others geo-related representations) in the last year or so. The idea is to eliminate traditional geocoding and the challenges of performing it in different counties, with different addressing systems, in different languages. Derived from longitude/latitude, the Universal Address is an eight or ten digit alphanumerical character code representing a unique location (covering from 30 meters to one meter) anywhere in the world. The idea has been written up in numerous places.

Universal Addresses And MapPoint .NET

This week a NAC press release announced that the technology was now working in conjunction with MapPoint .Net. The release noted that this form of addressing, if it replaced street addresses could:

1. reduce 80% of input (I believe that means keystrokes),
2. eliminate difficulties in inputting foreign characters (~ for example),
3. eliminate errors from address databases that are always outdated and incomplete (such as street databases with address ranges that run from free TIGER to more expensive value-added offerings), and
4. extend location based services to all locations and areas even if there are no formal addresses in that geography (enabling you to route yourself to the middle of a dry lake bed in Primm, Nevada, for example).

When I started reading up on the company, I ran into a few interesting quotes. One story, that ran in June in the Toronto Globe and Mail said: "With backing from Microsoft Corp., a Toronto company's dream of a universal addressing system is taking a step closer to reality." I asked Lixin Zhou of NAC exactly how Microsoft was backing the idea. Zhou replied, "More accurately, Universal Address powered location based services are backed by Microsoft MapPoint Web Service. Microsoft does not directly get involved in the NAC technology."

Real World Implementations


I asked about implementations of the NAC technologies beyond those of NAC after reading that two senior executives from NTT DoCoMo USA had visited the company in January of this year. Zhou explained that the system "is currently being implemented in Somaliland under a UN project used as property identifiers, addresses and postal codes. There are a few companies interested in licensing the NAC technology, but [none have] implemented it yet. NAC may go a private path and become a de facto standard because of the great inertia of governments and international standard organizations." The result of a MapPoint .NET routing exercise with Universal Address inputs is above.

Hands On

You can test out the system via two websites: Mobile Location Based Services Network and TravelGIS Driving Directions Service. These support the creation of Universal Addresses and their use for directions and other services in 26 countries and all the major cities of the world, according to the release, but only if visitors can provide Universal Addresses or Natural Area Codes (NAC). And that's the rub. While these codes make finding directions between an address in Belgium and one in Germany seamless technologically, few of us know our own Universal Address or NAC let alone those for distant points of interest. Below are the inputs for a route between Boston and Chicago.


NAC readily addresses the "geocoding" issue on its websites where a free geocoder is available to "translate" old-fashioned addresses into Universal Addresses. As you can imagine, if you've ever tried to develop a worldwide geocoder, the process is quite a challenge in itself.

In practical terms that means that whatever address a person does know, in whatever language he or she speaks, it must be "geocoded" into a Universal Address or NAC, which slows the process. On the other hand, the vision is that we'll all carry around our own Universal Addresses (one part of the demo suggests that tourist-related businesses include the values in promotional materials and that businesses include them on business cards). If we all used universal codes, it'd be great!

But, getting to that point is quite a challenge. If this plays out, perhaps the next generation will know that the Porter Square red line subway stop is some mix of numbers and letters, but to me, it'll always be at the intersection of Mass Ave. and Somerville Ave. There's another rub: we humans are better tuned to certain languages, while computers are tuned to others.

A Reality Check

This is really a semantic interoperability challenge; put simply, worldwide addressing is not standard. What NAC envisions is worldwide acceptance of this new system, or at least its addition to an existing system. My sense is that for this to work the Universal Addresses and NACs need to be invisible. It could be argued that we are halfway there now. Why? How many other people's cell phone numbers do you know off the top of your head? I know none. Why? They are all stored in my cell phone! Similarly, if my Universal Address was conveniently stored or created for me as needed (in my phone, my computer, my PDA, GPS) then this just might work.

But I don't think that's likely, at least not in the short term. Should you want to create or use a Universal Address or NAC, you'll need to license some technology from NAC. As Zhou put it, "It's a proprietary standard."

Andrew Zolnai, at ESRI, wrote to raise an issue about an item of metadata currently in the FGDC structure that may be "
retired" as FGDC moves to the International Standard.

"I would quibble with [the statement that] 'baud rate ...will likely be retired' since 'almost no one is moving data via a phone line these days' - it is not so among many poor U.S. states and countries around the world. (ESRI Press exists because we do not assume easy electronic access; our Russian distributor said their Geography Network will exist when they'll have … Internet [access])."

The editor replies: I called Sharon Shin to be sure I understood what "baud rate" meant as an item in the FGDC metadata standard. And, I learned that it referred to the "old" way of using telephones and computers, that is, back when we used "dumb" terminals and had to literally use a phone to directly call another machine, set the baud rate and then begin data downloads. That's the process that Shin suggested is no longer in use. This has nothing to do with the communications involved when using a dial-up modem (where the call is not to a specific machine, but rather to an Internet Service Provider, which makes the connection to the Internet). She and I agree that that type of dial-up is still widely used in the U.S.

Shin also pointed out that the planned U.S. profile, which will add specific "U.S. only" type fields, should solve any issue of data items that are specific to the country. Russia, or any other country, can create its own profile to include whatever it needs beyond the ISO items.

ESRI Hires Ex-Governor. Government Technology
reports that former Governor Jim Geringer of Wyoming has taken a senior position at ESRI.

Walk this Way. Vodafone has integrated MapWay, a pedestrian routing service from m-spatial into its European mobile phone offerings. Instead of routing cars along roads, the service is specifically aimed at walkers, who clearly have different needs and can walk the wrong way on one-way streets. Another difference: destinations are input by name, not necessarily by address or Zip code. The MapWay application is built on database of more than 20 million building locations. The brains behind m-spatial include alums of Logica, Laser-Scan (including former Technology Director Adrian Cuthbert), and Xmarc. A writer at the Register offers that the service needs a few more things to make it more useful: the ability to book a table at the destination restaurant or find out where to catch the next bus to the target location. I think m-spatial should hook up with the Segway folks, since those devices, at least in the U.S., often are legal on the sidewalk.

Half-Price GIS Education. The City University (London) Masters in Geographic Information (MGI) team announced two 50% fee waiver scholarships for part-time distance study for full applications received by Friday, September 5, 2003.

GPS for Mac Petition. The folks at GPS City have started a petition to encourage GPS manufacturers to support the Mac platform. The website notes that the vast majority of products listed there are PC-based. The goal is 5000 signatures, with which the proponents feel they can get the attention of "Garmin and Magellan." Thales Navigation owns the Magellan brand these days. Thanks to Gary, one of the Mac (and GIS Monitor) faithful for passing that on.

Six Degrees of Separation Revisited. Back in Peter Gould's class at Penn State I heard about Stanley Milgram's experiment and resulting assertion that via a "friend of a friend" connection, every one in the world could reach someone else after an average of six hops. A new experiment, discussed in the New York Times, tried to confirm what may have been a less than optimal initial experiment (there were only a few hundred starting participants and only about one-third of the letters reached their destination person), with some interesting results. 60,000 e-mailers were asked to send mail onto friends, acquaintances, co-workers such that they'd eventually reach eighteen destination people in 13 countries. Less than two percent of the e-mails were successfully delivered. (Keep in mind that e-mail forwarding is cheaper and easier than old-fashioned mail used in the 1967 experiment.) The biggest challenge: many people simply ignored the request. The principle of least effort is still in effect!

Statistics. I noted above that Daratech chose not to explicitly state marketshare percentages for GIS vendors in its annual press release. That said, consider the following statistics (which I'll forgo analyzing), which indicate the number of posts to these product/vendor specific newslists this week (as calculated at Directions Magazine):

ArcGIS 8
ArcView 7 (Bill Huber)
ArcView 1 (ESRI)
GeoMedia-L 6
Idrisi-L 6
Manifold-L 58
MapInfo-L 105
SW-GIS 61 (Smallworld)

CRM in Know. Knowifi, a company based in Del Mar, California, offers RFID/wireless solutions for customer tracking, mostly to the convention and gambling industries. Casinos, for example, can provide guests with RFID tagged cards or trinkets and track them throughout the day, making more marketing opportunities available, and tracking the results of promotions (Did the big "Wheel of Fortune" game draw as many people as expected?). Ideally the system can differentiate between a high- and low-value guest. A casino employee might track down the former with an offer to reserve a table at the buffet.

Effective Outdoor Ads. Questioning the effectiveness of outdoor billboards, two marketers decided to promote a fictional product, solely via billboards, and trace how many people surveyed in the area were aware of the product. The results were remarkable: 70% of respondents were aware of Outhouse Springs water. That led to the introduction of a real product by that name, at least for a short time.

GIS in Newsweek. ESRI was introduced in a "Web only" article from Newsweek. The author notes that "the biggest shift for GIS… is happening on the Web. Global standards are emerging that create the opportunity to 'drag and drop' information from a database on a distant Website right onto a map on your desktop…"

Happy Birthday. GIS Monitor celebrates its third birthday this week. From its humble beginnings as a phone discussion one week in 2000 to a first issue the next, with some 100 recipients, GIS Monitor has grown to serve nearly 14,000 readers each week. Thanks to our readers, and our advertisers, for making this possible.


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• Announcements
Autodesk announced an online narrated demonstration that shows Autodesk's complete, integrated infrastructure lifecycle solution. Visitors can watch the entire demo to see how easily your entire project team can create, share, analyze and manage data, or choose to watch just those segments that interest you. There is also an option to order a CD.

The ManyOne Network, a subscriber-supported global information service has signed a licensing agreement with GeoFusion, Inc. producers of the GeoMatrix Toolkit. Manyone will incorporate the GeoFusion technology into its platform.

Magnetek will integrate ESRI's Arc View GIS software with its HIQgrid digital control system.

FNIS Flood Services, a division of FNIS, a source for real estate-related data and valuations, technology solutions and services, announced the donation of the complete set of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps to the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Science, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering. The donation is valued at more than $335,000 and includes in excess of 100,000 individual paper maps, along with a complete set of digital map images. Both sets will be available at the library.

Washington Department of Natural Resources maps and geographic products are now available online. Next up: online access to aerial photos.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced that Boston-based Geonetics, Inc., has signed a contract with Intergraph to become a Utilities & Communications Registered Solutions Center (RSC).

• Contracts and Sales
Trimble was chosen as the primary GPS timing supplier for Cattron-Theimeg, Inc.'s next generation ACCUSPEED locomotive radio remote control system.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced that its IntelliWhere location-based services technology has been selected to power delivery of event and venue information at the upcoming 2003 annual Popkomm.Festival music event. Festival attendees will be able to use mobile phones and handheld devices locally to access information, such as driving directions to venues, walking directions to accessible public transport, artist information, and event schedules.

MapQuest expanded an agreement with Gannett, Co., Inc., the newspaper group, to map-enable the community calendar platform utilized by many of Gannett's newspapers nationwide. Gannett has licensed MapQuest Enterprise v2.0.

PlanGraphics, Inc. is developing a GIS/MIS strategic plan for the Virginia Beach, Virginia, Public Works Department.

Merrick & Company has been selected to perform map modernization of all Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) in the City and County of Denver, Colorado.

R.A. Smith & Associates, Inc. has been retained by Waukesha Water Utility to provide GIS services to design and populate a GIS database.

Coleman, a manufacturer of outdoor recreation products, has selected Tele Atlas as its map data provider for Coleman's Outernet. That's a cute name for Coleman's website with outdoor resources. Also behind the scenes: ESRI technology.

• Products
Applanix announced TrueHeave technology. The filtering tool provides the hydrographer with a much more accurate heave estimate in challenging survey conditions.

Geobis International announces digital maps and sociogeodemographics for all of Latin America and the Caribbean appropriate for geocoding and routing. The data is also provided as a service.

DM Solutions Group Inc. announced significant contributions to MapServer, an open source Web mapping technology broadly used within the GIS industry. Version 4.0 of MapServer is now available, and includes implementations of the Open GIS Consortium Web Map Context and Web Feature Service specifications. Another key addition completed by DM Solutions Group is the capacity to output vector-based maps.

• Events
John J. Hansen, Secretary of Technology for the State of Colorado, will present a luncheon address at the 16th Annual GIS in the Rockies.

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) is offering a new seminar on federal regulations, to be presented at the GIS for Oil & Gas Conference, slated for September 29-October 1, 2004, in Houston, Texas.

Conference sponsors, Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community (IGUC) invited geospatial professionals to submit abstracts of technical presentations to be considered for the fourth annual GeoSpatial World to be held May 12-14, 2004, in Miami Beach, Florida.

• Hires and New Offices
Laser-Scan has moved, but telephone and fax numbers have stayed the same:
Cavendish House
6 Cambridge Business Park


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